How To Write A Novel By The Seat Of Your Pants

Image Credit: Unsplash, Mubariz Mehdizadeh

Plots are beautiful things. And they make storytelling a hella lot easier.

Sadly, some of us can’t do that.  I mean, we CAN plot.  It’s intellectually possible.  We understand plot.  We know Story.

But the moment we plot the story out, we lose it.  We lose the heart of the characters and the energy of the story.

We’re called Pantsers, because we forced by some ill-willed (perhaps even malevolent?? :scans horizon:) twist of fate, to write by the seat of our pants.

It’s not pretty.  At least not for me.  I’ve tried to become a Plotter.  I’ve dedicated myself to it.  And failed miserably.  Every time I plot too early, I lose…everything.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing a novel by the seat of your pants:
* Write fast and furious to approximately page 100. Have only a vague but Very Exciting plan for arc and plot.
* Stop.
* Realize you’re not entirely sure how to manage all the plot threads and characters you’ve set up, nor are you sure which of the 50 billion scenes you’ve written should stay/be ruthlessly cut/be revised so they’re unrecognizable as the original scene.
* Ignore sinking suspicion your favorite scenes are the ones that should be ruthlessly cut.
* Realize it’d be a lot easier if you’d planned ahead.
* Start plotting.
* Identify a gorgeous plot using structurally sound storytelling methods.
* Rewrite pages 2-100, reordering scenes as necessary to aim for this structurally sound storytelling method. (Note: Additional rewrites/reorders are permissible, up to one hundred). Allow anywhere from 1-6 months.
* Write additional, unrelated-but-fun scenes when the muse shows up; try to average 2 a day.
* Throw them in the trash.
* Draw timelines marking out plots & turning points. (Use different colored pens if necessary, to allow easy tracking of different versions of story, as there will be a lot of them.)
* Re-read craft books on structure and story. Enjoy concepts therein. Look over handwritten timelines and despair.
* Shuffle through story versions 1-35. Realize you’ve lost all sense of story & character.
* Realize that ‘standard’ is not going to work for this story.
* Re-open file with version #1 (Note: any early version, 1-5, will do). Continue writing as if the intervening 1-4 months did not occur.
* Cry. Drink. Rage against the machine. Do whatever it takes, but keep writing.
* Assure concerned friends & family that you love writing. LOVE IT.
Because you do.

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About Kris

USA Today bestselling author Kris Kennedy writes historical & contemporary romance. She does story consults & developmental editing, & has a free newsletter with writing tips and tricks for romance writers!

Find her website HERE.

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Readers: If you have any questions for authors–want to know where we get our ideas,  how we craft our heroes, what’s the hardest part of writing, what foods we like to raid from the fridge?–ask away!  This is an open Q&A column, and we’ll have Writing Life columns to answer any & all questions. Just post in the comment thread!

 

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